Molly Russell’s father calls for action as inquest opens into her death

The father of Molly Russell has called for action to “prevent such a young life being wasted again” as the inquest into her death nearly five years ago opened.

Molly, 14, from Harrow, north-west London, killed herself on November 2017 and had viewed online content linked to anxiety, depression, self-harm and suicide before ending her life.

Ian Russell, 59, who has become a prominent campaigner for internet safety, also paid tribute to his “positive, happy, bright” daughter as the inquest began at north London coroner’s court.

Reading out a pen portrait of his daughter to the court, Russell said everyone touched by his daughter’s story should remember there is always “help and hope”.

He said: “Just as Molly would have wanted, it is important to seek to learn whatever we can and then to take all necessary action to prevent such a young life being wasted again. Her life mattered and her place in the world will remain as important as it always was.

“Although her story is not the one any of us would have chosen to tell, and it is different to the one she would tell herself if she were still here, it will be just as powerful and influential.”

Molly Russell, who was 14 when she died.
Molly Russell, who was 14 when she died. Photograph: Family handout/PA

Russell said his daughter had been “struggling with her mental health and hiding her struggles from the rest of us while she battled her demons in the hope of finding peace”.

He added: “It’s all too easy to dwell on the events that led Molly to end her life. It’s all too easy to forget the person she really was: someone full of love and hope and happiness, a young person full of promise and opportunity and potential.”

The court heard that Molly’s body was found in her bedroom by her mother, Janet, in November 2017.

In a statement read out to the court on her behalf by Oliver Sanders KC, Holly’s mother said she called out for Molly but did not hear a response and began searching for her around the house.

The statement read: “I knew then something wasn’t right. I saw a load of her clothes on the floor [of her bedroom]. For some reason I thought Molly had run away. As I looked in her room, I found her … I had no doubt it was her.”

Ian Russell told a police constable who attended the family home after Molly’s body was discovered that for most of the year Molly hadn’t been herself and “had become very quiet and withdrawn”, the court heard.

Molly’s iPhone and iPod were examined by police. In the hours before her death, she interacted with apps including Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat and TalkLife, an online support network for people struggling with their mental health.

In a statement read out on behalf of retired Metropolitan police DI Michael Walker, the court heard that Molly was an “avid fan” of Salice Rose, who has 15 million followers on Instagram and has talked regularly about suicide and depression on a regular basis. Molly also followed a Twitter account that “displays depressing quotes”, the court heard.

Molly drafted an Instagram message wishing a happy birthday to the US rapper Phora, who has struggled with his mental health. The inquest heard the last social media app accessed by the teenager before she died was Instagram.

Senior employees from Meta, the parent company of Instagram, and Pinterest are due to give evidence in person during the inquest.

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